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Carcharias taurus Rafinesque, 1810
Blue Nurse Shark; Grey Nurse Shark; Nuss Shark; Sand Shark; Sand Tiger; Sand Tiger Shark; Sandtiger Shark; Shovel-nosed Shark; Spotted Ragged Tooth; Spotted Ragged-tooth; Eugomphodus taurus Rafinesque, 1810; Odontaspis taurus Rafinesque, 1810; Carcharias arenarius Ogilby, 1911; Odontaspis cinerea Ramsay, 1880

Life   Vertebrata   Fish   Odontaspididae   Carcharias

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Following modified from Australian Faunal Directory
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http://biodiversity.org.au/afd/taxa/0c3e2403-05c4-4a43-8019-30e6d657a283 ---> https://biodiversity.org.au/afd/taxa/0c3e2403-05c4-4a43-8019-30e6d657a283
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Australian Faunal Directory

You are here:  Environment home » Biodiversity » ABRS » AFD » ANIMALIA (Kingdom) » CHORDATA (Phylum) » VERTEBRATA (Subphylum) » GNATHOSTOMATA (Higher Taxon) » PISCES (Higher Taxon) » CHONDRICHTHYES (Class) » ELASMOBRANCHII (Subclass) » LAMNIFORMES (Order) » ODONTASPIDIDAE (Family) » Carcharias Rafinesque, 1810 (Genus) » Carcharias taurus Rafinesque, 1810

Species Carcharias taurus Rafinesque, 1810


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CAAB : 37008001 Taxon concept Carcharias_taurus last modified 2014-03-13 14:41:28.159

Species Carcharias taurus Rafinesque, 1810

Greynurse Shark , Blue Nurse Shark, Grey Nurse Shark, Nuss Shark, Sand Shark, Sand Tiger, Sand Tiger Shark, Sandtiger Shark, Shovel-nosed Shark, Spotted Ragged Tooth, Spotted Ragged-tooth


Taxonomic Decision for Synonymy


Generic Combinations



The east coast population of the Greynurse Shark is listed as Critically Endangered under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and protected, threatened or endangered in various states and critically endangered internationally. The population has declined considerably in recent years (Pogonoski et al . 2002). Results of a detailed study on their movements along the east coast was reported by Bansemer & Bennett (2011) and Otway & Ellis (2011).




New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia

Extra Distribution Information

Circumaustralian, except TAS; temperate, Atlantic Indo-west Pacific.

IBRA and IMCRA regions (map not available)


Northern Shelf Province (25), Northwest Shelf Transition (26), Northwest Shelf Province (27), Central Western Shelf Transition (28), Central Western Shelf Province (29), Southwest Shelf Transition (30), Southwest Shelf Province (31), Great Australian Bight Shelf Transition (32), Spencer Gulf Shelf Province (33), Western Bass Strait Shelf Transition (34), Bass Strait Shelf Province (35), Southeast Shelf Transition (37), Central Eastern Shelf Province (38), Central Eastern Shelf Transition (39), Northeast Shelf Province (40), Northeast Shelf Transition (41)

Ecological Descriptors

Benthic, continental shelf, inshore, marine, rock reef.

Extra Ecological Information

1-190 m


General References

Bansemer, C.S. & Bennett, M.B. 2011. Sex- and maturity-based differences in movement and migration patterns of grey nurse shark, Carcharias taurus , along the eastern coast of Australia. Marine and Freshwater Research 62 : 596–606

Coleman, N. 1980. Australian Sea Fishes South of 30ºS . Lane Cove, NSW : Doubleday Australia Pty Ltd 309 pp. [20] (as Odontaspis taurus )

Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO Species Catalogue. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Hexanchiformes to Lamniformes. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125 . Rome : FAO Vol. 4(1) pp. 1-249. [216] (as Eugomphodus taurus )

Compagno, L.J.V. 2001. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Bullhead, mackerel and carpet sharks (Heterodontiformes, Lamniformes and Orectolobiformes) . Rome : FAO, FAO Species Catalogue for Fisheries Purposes No. 1 Vol. 2 269 pp. [59]

Compagno, L.J.V., Dando, M. & Fowler, S. 2005. A Field Guide to the Sharks of the World . London : Collins 368 pp. [175]

Compagno, L.J.V. & Niem, V.H. 1998. Family Odontaspididae. pp. 1264-1267 in Carpenter, K.E. & Niem, V.H. (eds). The Living Marine Resources of the Western Central Pacific. FAO Species Identification Guide for Fisheries Purposes . Rome : FAO Vol. 2 687-1396 pp. [1266]

Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes . Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp. [34]

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia . Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp. [14]

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia . Canberra : CSIRO Australia 513 pp. 84 pls. [145]

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 2009. Sharks and Rays of Australia . Collingwood : CSIRO Publishing Australia 2, 550 pp. [159]

Macbeth, W.G., Vandenberg, M. & Graham, K.J. 2008. Identifying Sharks and Rays; A guide to Commercial Fishers . Sydney : New South Wales Department of Primary Industry pp. 71. [28]

McCulloch, A.R. 1930. A check-list of the fishes recorded from Australia. Memoirs of the Australian Museum 5 (1–4): 1-534 [16] (as C. arenarias and C. tricuspidata )

Munro, I.S.R. 1961. Handbook of Australian fishes. Nos 1–42. Australian Fisheries Newsletter 15–17, 19, 20 : 1-172 [published as separates 1956–1961] [3] (8)

Otway, N.M. & Ellis, M.T. 2011. Pop-up archival satellite tagging of Carcharias taurus : movements and depth/temperature-related use of south-eastern Australian waters. Marine and Freshwater Research 62 : 607–620

Pognoski, J.J., Pollard, D.A. & Paxton, J.R. 2002. Conservation Overview and Action Plan for Australian Threatened and Potentially Threatened Marine and Estuarine Fishes . Canberra : Environment Australia 375 pp.

Randall, J.E., Allen, G.R. & Steene, R. 1990. Fishes of the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea . Bathurst : Crawford House Press 507 pp. figs. [16]

Stead, D.G. 1963. Sharks and Rays of Australian Seas . Sydney : Angus & Robertson 211 pp. 63 figs. [200]

Stevens, J.D. 1994. Family Odontaspididae. pp. 147-149 in Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). The Fishes of Australia's South Coast . Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs. [148]

White, W. 2008. Shark Families Heterodontidae to Pristiophoridae. pp. 32-100 in Gomon, M.F., Bray, D.J. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds). Fishes of Australia's Southern Coast . Sydney : Reed New Holland 928 pp. [34]

Whitley, G.P. 1964. A survey of Australian Ichthyology. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 89 (1): 11-127 [33] (87, 88)


Common Name References

Compagno, L.J.V. 1984. FAO Species Catalogue. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Hexanchiformes to Lamniformes. FAO Fisheries Synopsis No. 125 . Rome : FAO Vol. 4(1) pp. 1-249. [216] (Sandtiger Shark)

Compagno, L.J.V. 2001. Sharks of the World. An annotated and illustrated catalogue of shark species known to date. Bullhead, mackerel and carpet sharks (Heterodontiformes, Lamniformes and Orectolobiformes) . Rome : FAO, FAO Species Catalogue for Fisheries Purposes No. 1 Vol. 2 269 pp. [62] (Sand Tiger Shark, Shovel-nosed Shark)

Gomon, M.F., Glover, C.J.M. & Kuiter, R.H. (eds) 1994. The Fishes of Australia's South Coast . Adelaide : State Printer 992 pp. 810 figs. [149] (Sand Shark, Sand Tiger, Spotted Ragged Tooth)

Grant, E.M. 2002. Guide to Fishes . Redcliffe : EM Grant Pty Ltd 880 pp. [34] (Nuss Shark)

Kuiter, R.H. 1993. Coastal Fishes of South-eastern Australia . Bathurst : Crawford House Press 437 pp. [14] (Grey Nurse Shark)

Last, P.R. & Stevens, J.D. 1994. Sharks and Rays of Australia . Canberra : CSIRO Australia 513 pp. 84 pls. [145] (Spotted Ragged-tooth)

Seafood Services Australia 2008. Australian Fish Names Standard. http://www.fishnames.com.au/. ( Greynurse Shark )

Waite, E.R. 1928. Check list of the marine fishes of South Australia. Journal of the Pan-Pacific Research Institute 3 (1): 3-13 [3] (Blue Nurse Shark)


History of changes

Note that this list may be incomplete for dates prior to September 2013.
Published As part of group Action Date Action Type Compiler(s)
16-Apr-2012 20-Aug-2013 MODIFIED
12-Feb-2010 (import)

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Last modified: Thursday, 13 March 2014 2:41:28 PM AEDT

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&pull 20q v5.145 20180528: Error 301 Moved Permanently http://taibnet.sinica.edu.tw/eng/taibnet_species_detail.php?gen=Carcharias&spe=taurus

Following modified from FishBase
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http://www.fishbase.org/Summary/speciesSummary.php?genusname=Carcharias&speciesname=taurus ---> http://www.fishbase.org/summary/Carcharias-taurus.html
http://www.fishbase.org/summary/Carcharias-taurus.html ---> https://www.fishbase.se/summary/Carcharias-taurus.html
Carcharias taurus, Sand tiger shark : fisheries, gamefish

Common name (e.g. trout)

Genus + Species (e.g. Gadus morhua)

Carcharias taurus Rafinesque , 1810

Sand tiger shark Add your observation in Fish Watcher
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Carcharias taurus   AquaMaps   Data sources: GBIF OBIS
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Pictures | Videos |     Stamps, Coins Misc. | Google image Image of Carcharias taurus (Sand tiger shark) Carcharias taurus
Picture by Choromanski, J.M.

Classification / Names Common names | Synonyms | Catalog of Fishes ( gen. , sp. ) | ITIS | CoL | WoRMS | Cloffa

Elasmobranchii (sharks and rays) > Lamniformes (Mackerel sharks) > Odontaspididae (Sand tigers)
Etymology: Carcharias: Greek, karcharos = sharpen (Ref. 45335 ) .  More on author: Rafinesque .

Environment: milieu / climate zone / depth range / distribution range Ecology

Marine; reef-associated; oceanodromous (Ref. 51243 ); depth range 1 - 191 m (Ref. 247 ), usually 15 - 25 m (Ref. 43278 ).   Subtropical; 45°N - 48°S, 100°W - 155°E

Distribution Countries | FAO areas | Ecosystems | Occurrences | Point map | Introductions | Faunafri

Circumtropical: Except perhaps the eastern Pacific (Ref. 13568 ). Indo-West Pacific: Red Sea and off the coasts of South Africa to Japan, Korea and Australia (Ref. 13568 ). Present in Arafura Sea (Ref. 9819 ). Western Atlantic: Gulf of Maine to Argentina. Old record from Bermuda, south Brazil (Ref. 26938 ). Eastern Atlantic: Mediterranean to Cameroon. Northwest Atlantic: Canada (Ref. 5951 ).

Length at first maturity / Size / Weight / Age

Maturity: L m   ? , range 220 - 230 cm
Max length : 330 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 27549 ); common length : 250 cm TL male/unsexed; (Ref. 6077 ); max. published weight: 158.8 kg (Ref. 40637 )

Short description Morphology | Morphometrics

Dorsal spines (total): 0; Dorsal soft rays (total): 0; Anal spines : 0; Anal soft rays : 0. A shark with a short, pointed snout, small eyes, protruding spike-like teeth and small, equal-sized dorsal and anal fins; 1st dorsal fin closer to pelvic than to pectoral fins (Ref. 5578 ). Caudal fin with a pronounced subterminal notch and a short ventral lobe (Ref. 13575 ). Pale brown or grey, paler below, with dark spots that appear faded in adults; fins plain (Ref. 6586 ).

Biology     Glossary (e.g. epibenthic)

A common littoral shark found inshore from the surf zone and in shallow bays to at least 191 m on the outer continental shelves (Ref. 13568 ). Often on or near the bottom but also occurs in midwater or at the surface (Ref. 247 ). Only shark known to gulp and store air in its stomach to maintain neutral buoyancy while swimming (Ref. 13568 ). Found singly or in small to large schools (Ref. 247 ). Feeds on bony fishes, small sharks, rays, squids, crabs, and lobsters (Ref. 5578 ). Ovoviviparous, embryos feeding on yolk sac and other ova produced by the mother as well as other siblings in the womb (uterine cannibalism) (Ref. 50449 ). Usually gives birth to 2 pups after a 9-12 months gestation period (Ref.58048). A migratory species in parts of its range, particularly in its northern and southern extremities where pronounced poleward migration occur in the summer and equatorial movements in autumn and winter (Ref. 247 ). Usually inoffensive and not aggressive when not provoked (Ref. 247 ) but has known to bite swimmers and be aggressive towards divers with speared fish (Ref. 6586 ). Utilized for fresh, frozen, smoked and dried for human consumption (Ref. 247 ); also for fishmeal, liver oil, fins, and hides for leather (Ref. 13568 ). Flesh highly appreciated in Japan (Ref. 36731 ).

Life cycle and mating behavior Maturity | Reproduction | Spawning | Eggs | Fecundity | Larvae

Exhibit ovoviparity (aplacental viviparity), with embryos feeding on other ova produced by the mother (oophagy) after the yolk sac is absorbed, then cannibalize siblings (adelphophagy) (Ref. 50449 ). Distinct pairing with embrace (Ref. 205 ). Eggs leave the ovaries, and while in transit in the oviducts are fertilized and enclosed in groups of 16 to 23 in egg cases. However, at some time between fertilization and birth only two (Ref. 5578 , 6586 ) embryos of its group prevails, possibly by devouring its rivals, and proceeds to eat fertilized eggs and smaller potential siblings in utero until birth. According to Springer (1948) (Ref. 39565 ), it is evident that this species sends forth into the world not only large, well-developed, and even experienced young but may send them forth with a full stomach. The yolk sac is resorbed at a small size, less than 17 cm, and the umbilical scar may be lost. Gestation period may be from 8 to 9 months long. Size at birth 100 cm (Ref. 6586 ). Pratt (2001) (Ref. 49562 ) relates Gordon's (1993) (Ref. 51113 ) detailed account of the mating behavior of the sand tiger sharks as follows: "mating activities began when the two male C. taurus , having become reluctant to feed, increased their swimming speed, accompanied by clasper flexion and eventual interest in their female tank mates...aggressive displays such as snapping and stalking became frequent, mostly toward species of smaller Carcharhinus in the tank. The males did not become interested in the female until she slowed, moved to the sand area and started cupping her pelvic fins. The two males then became competitive toward each other, circling and tailing, until the alpha male forced the beta male out of the sand area. The female bit the male prior to copulation. She exhibited shielding behavior for several days and then resumed cupping and flaring. The female gradually changed her swimming position and began displaying the submissive behavior. The alpha male swam in increasingly larger circles and began splaying its claspers, then approached the female and exhibited tailing and nosing. Copulation occurred as the male bit into the right flank and trailing edge of the pectoral fin of the female. The male swam side by side with the female, copulating with the right clasper for one to two minutes. After copulation, the male showed little interest in the female." In captivity, males show aggression toward other species after copulation (Ref. 51113 , 49562 ). Females avoid patrolling males by 'shielding' with pelvics close to the substrate (Ref. 51113 , 49562 ). However, female acceptance of future male partner is indicated by a show of 'submissive' body, 'cupping' and 'flaring' of pelvic fins (Ref. 51113 , 49562 ).

Main reference Upload your references | References | Coordinator : Compagno, Leonard J.V. | Collaborators

Last, P.R. and J.D. Stevens , 1994. Sharks and rays of Australia. CSIRO, Australia. 513 p. (Ref. 6871 )

IUCN Red List Status (Ref. 120744 )

  Critically Endangered (CR)  (A2abcd); Date assessed: 01 March 2007

CITES (Ref. 118484 )

Not Evaluated

CMS (Ref. 116361 )

Not Evaluated

Threat to humans

  Traumatogenic (Ref. 4690 )

Human uses

Fisheries: commercial; gamefish: yes FAO(fisheries: production , species profile ; publication : search ) | FishSource | Sea Around Us

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Spawning aggregation
Egg development
Larval dynamics
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Internet sources

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Estimates based on models

Preferred temperature (Ref. 115969 ): 12.5 - 28, mean 24.6 (based on 648 cells). Phylogenetic diversity index (Ref. 82805 ):  PD 50 = 0.8125   [Uniqueness, from 0.5 = low to 2.0 = high]. Bayesian length-weight: a=0.01096 (0.00410 - 0.02933), b=3.03 (2.80 - 3.26), in cm Total Length, based on LWR estimates for this (Sub)family-body shape (Ref. 93245 ). Trophic Level (Ref. 69278 ):  4.5   ±0.4 se; Based on diet studies. Resilience (Ref. 120179 ):  Very Low, minimum population doubling time more than 14 years (Fec=2; K=0.14-0.17; tmax=17). Vulnerability (Ref. 59153 ):  High vulnerability (58 of 100) . Price category (Ref. 80766 ):   Unknown .

Entered by Carpenter, Kent E. Modified by Casal, Christine Marie V. Fish Forum
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